Henrik Rydgård’s Playstation Portable emulator PPSSPP has been in development for quite some time now, but it flew under the radar of a lot of people because many were under the impression that it is still slow and too inaccurate to be playable. However, development sped up a few months ago and the emulator has improved by leaps and bounds – you can now play a lot of PSP games on even a low end PC running Windows (XP/Vista/7/8) or a high end Android device.
What You Need
Since the Android version is nowhere near the compatibility and speed of the Windows port, we’re going to focus on the Windows version’s requirements. Here’s what you need to get an enjoyable experience out of PPSSPP (based on my testing using a bunch of different PCs and Laptops):
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo e4300 1.8 Ghz or Any equivalent CPU – note that performance will scale if your CPU is faster, and that some games will also run decently on much slower processor especially if you enable Multithreading, but this CPU recommendation is a good sweetspot because it will let you run a lot of games fullspeed while also being old enough that it’s easy to get an equivalent or something that’s way better.
RAM: Emulators are not really that heavy on RAM usage, so if the amount of RAM on your PC is enough for Windows to stop abusing the disk-based swap file, it should be enough. (the lowest I’ve tried is on a laptop that has 1 GB or RAM on Windows 7, and around 256 MB of that is reserved for the Integrated Graphics Chip so we’re talking about PPSSPP not having trouble with 768 MB of Ram)
Video Card: PPSSPP needs a Video Card that supports Open GL 2.1. It should be an easy requirement for discrete desktop graphics solutions, but laptops can encounter problems, particularly those that use Intel IGPs older than the HD series (since some of them report OpenGL 2.* compliance even though the drivers are incomplete, resulting in the emulator crashing or showing glitchy screens.)
ISO Dumps of the Games You Want to Play: You’re on the Internet. It should be easy to find one on Google. Or if you have a PSP that has custom firmware, you can transfer the dumps from your memory card to your hard disk.
A Copy of PPSSPP: You can download one from PPSSPP.org
Configuring and Running the Emulator
If you are using an Xbox 360 Gamepad, there’s no need to configure the controls as it is already detected automatically by the emulator. If you’re using other types of gamepads or would prefer a keyboard, you can click Game Settings then click Controls. From there, you can configure the key bindings (just click the button you want to configure, then press the key or button that you want to be assigned to it).
As for the other settings, the default settings that came with the emulator should be enough for the majority of supported games if you meet the system requirements outlined earlier in this post. Compatibility and speed can be improved with tweaking, but this should be done only once you’ve gotten the hang of using the emulator. You should leave well enough alone if you just want to play games. However, there’s one thing you have to configure – the Atrac3+ audio.
In order to get support for Atrac3+ in PPSSPP, you need to download a separate plugin (the code can’t be included in PPSSPP for legal reasons, since the code of the existing plugin bears a lot of similarities with Sony’s proprietary code). To get the plugin, you need to go to Game Settings > Audio > Download Atrac3+ plugin.
Once you’re done with that, just go back to the main menu and click “Load…” then navigate to wherever you have the PSP ISOs stashed, and there you have it: PSP games on your PC.
When you’ve gotten the hang of PPSSPP, you can start fiddling with the graphics settings and will be able to upscale the games’ resolution to modern HD standards, as well as apply several filters and aliasing option designed to make a lot of PSP games look like current gen console titles.
Here are a few screenshots of the emulator in action: